Gamecocks turn attention to Kentucky

The Gamecocks notched their first SEC win of the season on Saturday against Ole Miss, and they now turn their attention toward the Kentucky Wildcats. For a game that produced a much needed road win, a shot of confidence, as well as the SEC Offensive Player of the Week in quarterback Chris Smelley, Carolina was surprisingly reticent when the topic turned to the win over the Rebels on Monday.

"We're getting ready for Kentucky," said Steve Spurrier. "Kentucky is 4-1, so they've got a little better record than we do, and it should be a pretty even game. It should be about like last week for us; maybe a play or two here and there [makes the difference]. Hopefully, we can play a little better than we did last week."

South Carolina played its most complete game of the season against Ole Miss, with the offense and defense both coming up with big plays. Spurrier, of course, is a perfectionist, and remained concerned about the mistakes made. Even Smelley, with his Player of the Week award in hand, was not immune to the fault finding.

"It was nice that he was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week," Spurrier said, almost dismissively. "He had a good game. He had a few careless plays that hopefully we can get rid of, but it ended up not hurting us. We had several careless plays by some linemen and some people. Fortunately, we had some good breaks and overcame those bad plays."

Spurrier had previously challenged Smelley to become a "great" quarterback, rather than just a good quarterback. What Spurrier wanted was for Smelley to occasionally take a shot down the field, rather than continuously dump the ball off underneath. Spurrier was asked Monday night if Smelley was getting closer to "great" play.

"He hit a few balls down the field," acknowledged Spurrier. "He can make a lot of plays better. His one interception was a very careless play, and he almost had another one late in the game. He had a good game, [but] it wasn't a super game as far as quarterbacks go. He can play better, and we're going to try to get him there."

Smelley certainly benefited from having All-SEC wide receiver Kenny McKinley back in the lineup. McKinley had been out since the first quarter against Vanderbilt with a bad hamstring, and he returned to catch four passes. Spurrier was, of course, pleased to have McKinley back in the lineup, but he was more excited to see a strong group effort out of the receivers.

"He made a lot of difference just being out there," Spurrier said of McKinley. "Jason Barnes is coming around, and Moe Brown had his best game. These receivers are understanding that we've got some competition. If you don't play very well, you're not going to play. You can only play so many, and you're hoping you have competition for playing time, and that's what we've got with the wide receivers."

Elsewhere on the offense, Spurrier has once again put the offensive line on notice. This time, however, only the guard positions are up for grabs.

"Both guards played okay but nothing too super last week," Spurrier said. Jamon Meredith and Terrence Campbell were the starters against Ole Miss, but will face competition from Lemuel Jeanpierre and Heath Batchelor. All four have started and seen significant playing time this season.

The only injury reported from last week's game was Jared Cook, who injured his foot. He was "a little gimpy" Monday night, but will be ready to play Saturday, according to Spurrier.

Auguste adjusting well at safety

One of the standouts for the Gamecock defense in Saturday's win was freshman safety Akeem Auguste. Auguste arrived this past spring as a cornerback, and quickly established himself as a playmaker. However, when the season rolled around, Auguste was stuck behind veterans Captain Munnerlyn, Stoney Woodson, and Carlos Thomas. It took a move to safety to get Auguste on the field, and he made the most of his opportunity against Ole Miss.

"They moved my position to safety," he shrugged. "I've got a lot of ball skills so they put me back there just to lurk around and make plays."

Cornerbacks are not expected to be big hitters, especially when they are of relatively slight stature. Auguste is only 5'9" and 180 pounds, so he could be forgiven for not laying the lumber, even after moving to safety. However, he proved his mettle by delivering the hit of the game against Ole Miss wide receiver Lionel Breaux in the fourth quarter.

"It was a cover two, the corner got a little jam on him, C.C. [Whitlock], and I just ran," Auguste recalled. "I just ran from my hash [mark] and ran full speed. He caught it and I just hit him."

That hit knocked the ball loose, causing an incompletion. It also sent Breaux to the sideline with an injured shoulder.

"I didn't even know the ball went out until I looked up and the ball was flying around," said Auguste. "He was just laying on the floor."

After the game, linebacker Jasper Brinkley said he thought it was hard hitting safety Emanuel Cook who had made the hit, not Auguste. Cook has been something of a mentor for Auguste, so that compliment was the highlight of the game for the freshman.

"To hit like him, oh man," he said, shaking his head. "I learned from him. He's like my big brother. We go out every day and try to see who gets the hardest hit. We get a little Crunch bar for the hardest hit, so I got the Crunch bar this week."

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